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400 Silent Years

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BETWEEN THE TESTAMENTS

The 400 Silent Years

The Old Testament closes approximately at 430 B.C.  At this point Israel was firmly established in the land of Palestine and had their Temple and city rebuilt.  The time period between 430 B.C. and the ministry of John the Baptist is known as the 400 silent years.  The term is derived from two factors: 1) The Lord did not send any prophets during this period, and 2) None of the inspired Scriptures were written during this period.  The voice from heaven that broke the silence came from the ministry of John the Baptist, who had the privilege of announcing the coming of the Messiah.  The 400 silent years were very eventful years, but the Lord chose for His own reasons too not have any inspired Scriptures written during this period.  The Apocryphal books were written during this era, which contain the records of some important historical events, but are not considered to be inspired by the Church. This era can be divided into seven different time periods.  Each period is designated by the ruling powers, which controlled Palestine.  These are:

 Persian Alexandrian Ptolemaic Selucid Maccabean Hasmonean Roman 
430-334BC 334-323BC 323-198BC 198-166BC 166-135BC 135-34BC 34BC-30AD

Though the voice of God was silent, the hand of God was actively directing the course of event during these centuries.

I.                   The Old Testament Canon

A.      “Canon,” literally meaning “cane,” or “measuring rod,” came to be used as the name of the list of books which were recognized as the genuine, original inspired, authoritative WORD OF GOD, the rule of faith.

1.       Early in history God began the formation of the Book which was to be the medium of His revelation of Himself to man:

a.       Ten Commandments, written of stone – Deuteronomy 10:4, 5

b.       Moses’ Laws, written in a book – Deuteronomy 31:24-26

c.        Copies of this book were made – Deuteronomy 17:18

d.       Joshua added to the book – Joshua 24:26

e.        Samuel wrote in a book, and laid it up before God – 1 Samuel 10:25

f.        This book was well known 400 years later – 2 Kings 22:8-10

g.        Prophets wrote in a book – Jeremiah 36:32; Zechariah 1:4, 7:7-12

2.       In Jesus’ Day, this book was called the Scriptures.

a.       The Scriptures were taught regularly and read publicly in synagogs.

b.       The Scriptures were commonly regarded among the people as THE WORD OF GOD.

3.       These Scripture were composed of 39 books, which constitute our Old Testament, though under a different arrangement.  They were spoken of as the…

a.       Law, 5 books – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

b.       Prophets, 8 books – Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel,

c.        The Twelve.

d.       Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezre-Nehemiah, Chronicles  

4.       The combination

a.       Combining the two books each of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles into one

b.       Ezra and Nehemiah into one

c.        12 minor prophets into one, which were written on one scroll

d.       These 24 books are exactly the same as the 39 books of our Old Testament

II.                Old Testament Arrangement

1.       Law (Pentateuch) – Genesis – Exodus – Leviticus – Numbers – Deuteronomy

2.       Historical – Joshua – Judges – Ruth – First Samuel – Second Samuel – First Kings – Second Kings – First Chronicles – Second Chronicles – Ezra – Nehemiah – Esther

3.       Poetical – Job – Psalms – Proverbs – Ecclesiastes – Song of Solomon

4.       Prophetic (major) – Isaiah – Jeremiah – Lamentations – Ezekiel – Daniel

5.       Prophetic (Minor) – Hosea – Joel – Amos – Obadiah – Jonah – Micah – Nahum – Habakkuk – Zephaniah – Haggai – Zechariah – Malachi

III.             The Apocrypha

A.      This is the name given to the 14 books contained in some Bibles between the Old  & New Testaments.

They bridge a gap between Malachi & Matthew & were written two or three centuries before Christ.

1.       1 Esdras

2.       2 Esdras

3.       Tobit

4.       Judith

5.       Rest of Esther

6.       Wisdom of Solomon

7.       Ecclesiasticus

8.       Baruch

9.       Song of the Three Holy Children

10.    History of Susanna

11.    Bel and the Dragon

12.    Prayer of Manasses

13.    1 Maccabees

14.    2 Maccabees

B.      During the Apostolic years there were far more than 27 books written, but the Church did not consider all of them to be inspired by God.  The Church had the difficult job of deciding which of the many books were to be placed in the Bible alongside the O.T. Scriptures.

1.       The Church has always declared these books to be non-canonical but has been able to appreciate them for their historical value.

2.       The Roman Catholic Church had always accepted these books canonical since the Council of Trent.

 

“The Synod…receives and venerates…all of the books both of the Old & New Testament [including Apocrypha] – seeing that God is the Author of both…as having been dictated, either by Christ’s own word of mouth or by the Holy Ghost… if anyone receives not as sacred and canonical the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church… let them be anathema.

C.      Six Reason the Church Rejects These

1.       The Authority of Jesus

a.       Jesus never quoted from any of these books.

b.       Yet He accepted all 39 books of the Old Testament Luke 24:44

2.       The New Testament Authority

a.       The NT never cites an apocryphal book as inspired.

b.       The NT does however quote from every Canonical book of the OT

3.       The Jewish Community Never Accepted Them as Inspired by God

4.       The Books Contain Historical Errors

5.       The Books Contain Theological Errors

a.       2 Maccabees 12:45, 46, 4 – this is where prayer for the dead is mentioned

b.       Catholics use this verse to pray their dead out of purgatory.

6.       Most Great Fathers of the Early Church did not View them as Canonical

IV.              The New Testament

How did we get the New Testament?

A.      A Three-Step Process: Writing, Reading, Circulating, and Collecting.

1.       Writing – The Selection of Authentic Books

–         (2 Thess. 2:2; 3:17) –Many false books were circulating.  No official list was yet given.

2.       Reading – The Reading of Authoritative Books

–         (1 Thess. 5:27; Col. 4:16) – The early Church had the practice of reading the Scriptures.

3.       Circulating and Collection of Books

–         (Rev. 1:1; Col. 4:16; 2 Peter 3:15-16) – The New Testament itself hints at the fact the Church already had a collection of books they viewed as authoritative.  The early Church copied and circulated the books of the NT (James 1:1, 1 Peter 1:1; 1 Tim 4:13).

4.       The Witness of the Early Church Fathers

–         Every Book of the New Testament was cited as authoritative by the early Church Fathers, and after the year 200 every passage can be seen as quoted.

There were seven books which were not accepted by all – Antilegomena [disputed by some\spoken against]  -Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation       

1.       367 A.D. First Official List of 27 Books

When Athenasius wrote in A.D. 367 he cited the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as being the only true books.  

2.       395 A.D. Council At Hippo – recognized the 27 books and,

3.       397 A.D. Council At Carthiage – affirmed that only those canonical books were to be read in the churches.   

B.      Four Criteria For Accepting The 27 Books of the New Testament

1.       Apostolicity.  Was the Author an apostle or did he have a connection with an apostle?  For example, Mark wrote under Peter’s authority, and Luke wrote under Paul’s authority.

2.       Acceptance.  Was the book accepted by the church at large? 

3.       Content.  Did the book reflect consistency of doctrine with what’s been accepted as orthodox?  In other words, can you compare Scripture with Scripture or does it contradict other portions of Scripture? 

4.       Internal Evidence of Inspiration.  Does it claim to be from God? 

5.       Dynamic Influence.  As you read it does it change your life?  (Heb. 4:12)

C.      What Was Christ’s View Of The Bible?

1.       In determining the nature of biblical inspiration, nothing could be more significant than determining the view Christ held regarding the Scriptures.

2.       Certainly no one ought to hold a lower view of Scripture than he held; His view of the Scriptures ought to be the determinant and the norm for other persons’ views. 

3.       Jesus Himself repeatedly called it the “Word of God”—John 17:17

–         INSPIRATION OF THE WHOLE

·         In His use of the Old Testament Christ gave belief to the inspiration of the entire Old Testament.  The Lord Jesus Christ had a number of vital things to say about Scripture.

·         Of the 1,800 verses in the New Testament which include quotations of Jesus, 180 of them, or one-tenth, come from the Old Testament.

·         He who is the Truth, who is the Word, believed and submitted to the inspired writings of the Old Testament without reservation.  If Jesus was committed to that, I’m certainly willing to be. 

1.       Jesus declared that He was the theme of all Scripture. 

a.       John 5:39 – Jesus said to the Jewish leaders, “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me.” 

2.       He also said that He came to fulfill all Scripture,

a.       Matt. 5:17 – He said, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.”

b.       In verse 17 He referred to the law or the prophets, a common phrase designating the entire Old Testament.

1)       In Luke 24:44 Jesus reminded the disciples that all the things written about Him in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled. “Then He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled."

3.       John 10:35 –“Scripture cannot be broken.” 

a.       He meant that what God said was true and what was prophesied in Scripture would take place.  He even compared the duration of Scripture to the Duration of the universe. He said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one tittle of the law to fall (Luke 16:17).”

b.       “All the things that are written through the prophets shall be accomplished (Luke 18:31).  

4.       Christ looked at His cross and said, “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him.”  (Matt. 26:24)

5.       He told Peter that He didn’t need the protection of his sword, for if He wished He could call down thousands of angels for assistance. “But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”— Matt. 26:54

6.       Jesus came to fulfill Scripture.  He saw Scripture as pointing to His own life and death; every detail of it had to be fulfilled. 

7.       He even called attention to individual words: While dying on the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”—Ps. 22:1 cf. Matt. 27:46 

–         INSPIRATION OF THE PARTS          

      The Temptation of Jesus:

1.       In Matthew 4:4, 7, 10, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:13,16, indicating Satan was wrong and emphasizing that these words written in Deuteronomy had to be fulfilled.

D.      Christ Viewed Historical Incidents as Factual History

1.       He acknowledged that Adam and Eve were created by God-Matt.19:3-5; Mark 10:6-8.

2.       He verified events connected with the flood of Noah’s day-Matt. 24:38-39; Luke 17:26-27.

3.       He authenticated God’s destruction of Sodom-the historicity of Lot & his wife-Matt.24:38-39; Lk.17:26-27. 

4.       He accepted as true the story of Jonah-Matt. 12:40.

5.       He acknowledged the historicity of…

a.       Isaiah-Matt. 12:17, Elijah-Matt. 17:11-12, Daniel-Matt. 24:15, Abel-Matt. 23:35,

b.       Zechariah-Matt. 23:35, Abiathar-Mark 2:26, David-Matt. 22:45, Moses & his writings-Matt. 8:4; John 5:46, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob-Matt. 8:11; John 8:39. 

6.       Christ did not merely allude to these stories, but He authenticated the events in them as factual history

 

–         INSPIRATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

In the Upper Room discourse Christ made a significant statement that seems to point to the ultimate, accurate recording of the New Testament writings. 

1.       John 14:26 cf. John 16:12-15 – Jesus indicated that the Holy Spirit would provide accurate recall for the apostles as they penned the words of Scripture guaranteeing their accuracy.

2.       The Rich Man & Lazarus –Luke 16:29 – “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” 

a.       Here we see that Jesus established the sufficiency of the Scriptures to save men.  The brothers of Lazarus didn’t need one to rise from the dead in order to be saved, the testimony of the prophets was sufficient to bring them to the knowledge of the truth.

Time For Decision

An obvious conclusion is that Jesus Christ held a very high view of Scripture, affirming its inspiration in the entire Old Testament-the various books of the Old Testament, the precise words, the actual letters-and He pointed to the inspiration of the New Testament.  Our response should be:

Colossians 3:16 – “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

1.       Our minds should be a tablet where the Word of God is written.  We are to read it, study it, obey it, and apply all of its teaching to our lives.

2.       It has been estimated that in one lifetime the average person will consume 150 head of cattle, 2,400 chickens, 225 lambs, 26 sheep, 310 pigs, 26 acres of grain, and 50 acres of fruits and vegetables, 

3.       How much of the Word of God are you consuming?

Introductory Considerations to the Gospels

I.                   The Purpose of this Study

I.

The gospels have been a great source of encouragement and teaching for the Church throughout history.  Without them our understanding of the Lord and His teachings would be reduced to the barest of facts.  It is important to note that these books are not merely biographical sketches of the life of our Lord but were written with a very specific purpose in mind.  Each writer had a group of people in mind when he wrote his book and he wanted to prove a specific point.  The purpose of each writer can be clearly seen when one closely examines the contents and emphasis of each book.  The purpose of this study is to discover the main objective each author had for writing his gospel.  This will be accomplished by studying the book and seeing its overarching message, and by seeing how the individual parts relate to the whole.

A.      There are four historical accounts of the person and work of Christ:

Different symbols for the Gospels are often used to communicate the distinctives of each account.

·         A Lion, symbolizing Matthew, represents strength and royal authority.

·         A Bull, representing Mark, portrays service and power

·         A Man, for Luke, stands for wisdom and character

·         An Eagle, John’s symbol represents deity

Matthew – Jesus Christ the King

1.       He wrote primarily to a Jewish audience, presenting Jesus of Nazareth as Israel’s long – awaited Messiah and rightful King.

2.       His genealogy focuses on Jesus’ royal descent from Israel’s greatest king, David.

3.       Interspersed throughout Matthew are quotes presenting various aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry as the fulfillment of OT prophecy – Key expression is “that is might be fulfilled.”

4.       Matthew wrote his gospel to strengthen the faith of Jewish Christians, and it provides a useful apologetic tool for Jewish evangelism.

Mark – Jesus Christ the Servant

1.       He wrote primarily to a Gentile audience, especially a Roman one.

2.       Mark is the gospel of action; the frequent use of “immediately” and “then” keeps his narrative moving rapidly along.

3.       Jesus appears in Mark as the Servant who came to suffer for the sins of many, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many—Mark 10:45.

Luke – Jesus Christ the Savior – the Son of Man

1.       Luke addressed a broader Gentile audience.

2.       Luke was educated in Greek, and wrote using the most sophisticated literary Greek in the NT

3.       He was a careful researcher, (Luke 1:1-4) and an accurate historian.

4.       Luke portrays Jesus as the Son of Man (a title appearing 26 times) the answer to the needs and hopes of the human race, who came to seek and save the lost sinners—Luke 9:56; 19:10.

 

John – Jesus Christ the Son of God

1.       This is the last gospel written, emphasizing the Deity of Jesus Christ – 5:18; 8:58; 10:30-33; 14:9

2.       John wrote to strengthen the faith of believers and to appeal to unbelievers to come to faith in Christ.

3.       John stated his purpose for writing in John 20:31: “…these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Taken together, the four gospels weave a complete portrait of the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth.  He was perfect humanity and deity, making him the only sacrifice for the sins of the world, and the worthy Lord of those who believe.

B.      Date.

The Gospels were all composed during the latter part of the first century, and there is distinct historical evidence to show that they were used and accepted as authentic before the end of the second century.

C.      Mutual relation. 

“If the extent of all the coincidences be represented by 100 their proportionate distribution will be:

1.       Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 53

2.       Matthew and Luke, 21

3.       Matthew and Mark, 20

4.       Mark and Luke, 6 Looking only at the general result, it may be said that of the contents of the synoptic Gospels [i.e., the first three Gospels] about two-fifths are common to the three, and that the parts peculiar to one or other of them are little more than one-third of the whole." Origin. Did the evangelists copy from one another? The opinion is well founded that the Gospels were published by the apostles orally before they were committed to writing, and that each had an independent origin.

D.      The Synoptic Gospels

D.       

       The first three gospels have been given this title due to the fact much of their content is the same.  The word synoptic comes from two Greek words syn, together, and optanomai, to see.  The three authors view and write about the life of Christ in the same way, even to the point they have exact verbal agreement in some places.

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